May 02, 2015 Letters
Please allow me to comment on the article titled “Govt. and Berbice Bridge Co. conspire to conceal deep financial problems – Ram” published in KN 2015-04-26. As reported in the article, Mr. Ram seeks to cast aspersions on the Office of the Registrar of Companies and Deeds, and on my own conduct within this office.
Whilst I am uncertain as to the motivation for Mr. Ram’s incendiary contentions as reported in the article, and surprised that Kaieteur News did not seek to consult with my office before proceeding to assert Mr. Ram’s misleading comments, I believe it is important to establish, for the particular education of Mr. Ram and also for the general public, the codices, guidelines, and standard operating procedures which govern the conduct of the Registrar of Companies and Deeds.
I therefore would sincerely appreciate your publication of this letter.
In the ensuing, I specifically do not comment on the Berbice Bridge Company Inc. (BBCI) as my interactions with all companies are guided by the ambit of the Companies Act and the legal ambit of my own office, which do not extend to discussions of any company in the press. I seek to however elucidate the nature of the interactions my office has had with Mr. Ram involving the BBCI.
Since my appointment as Registrar of Companies and Deeds, in July 2012, I have begun a process to address the backlogs that existed when I assumed the responsibility. One category in which there are backlogs relates to the annual returns filed by companies. My office is currently handling backlogs for the period 2002 as can be attested by the number of companies that have been struck off the Companies Register as a result of not filing returns with the registry to this date.
Earlier in March 2015, Mr. Ram approached my office to request that we write the BBCI to provide their returns for 2012-2014. Although the registry is still dealing with the year 2002, out of respect for Mr. Ram’s request, we stepped out of the current backlog sequence and wrote the BBCI to request the filing of their returns within the stipulated 28 days period, failing which they would be struck off the Register and gazetted.
BBCI responded, within the required 28 days period, asking for an extension of time to file their annual returns; this request was placed in the BBCI’s file in the registry. My office responded to this request, granting BBCI three months extension to file their returns. This is the standard time granted to any company making such a request and by no means constitutes preferential treatment to BBCI.
Mr. Ram asserted that I have received a correspondence marked ‘Private and Confidential’: it is interesting, and worrying, that Mr. Ram is intimately aware of the nature of mails received by the Registrar of Companies. When he approached me on this matter, I politely reminded Mr. Ram that I am not at liberty to divulge confidential information from any company, unless it is a matter of public record.
Even more worrying, Mr. Ram has now sought to publish what he claims as the contents of this correspondence labeled “Private and Confidential”. At no time will I ever allow confidential correspondence to my office to be shared – the implications for corporate competitiveness and rule of law would be chaotic, at best.
It would however seem that Mr. Ram wishes to dictate to the Registrar of Companies, via the dubious authority of the internet, that this office step outside the rule of law to satisfy his own interest in a company. My failure to let him do so seems to have sufficiently raised his ire to the point that he attacks my office and my conduct within it.
Let me be as clear as I possibly can – I pursue the functions of my office diligently and fairly without favour to anyone or any company. When the Registry finds itself dealing with the calendar year in which any company listed in Guyana has not filed their returns and required documentation, those companies shall be either struck-off the Register or shall have to remedy their good standing within a grace period which is extended to all companies. This relates to the BBCI as much as it does to Mr. Ram’s own company, without prejudice. Our procedure on this is very clear. Furthermore, this office shall not put into the public domain any correspondence which is labeled “Private and Confidential.”
Should the office receive such correspondence which seeks to address issues related to the filing of returns or other required documentation, we would assess the reasons provided, and if within the law, provide relevant extensions in writing which would state the reasons for the extension, and which would be a matter of public record, or would proceed to strike the company off the Companies Register, which would also be a matter of public record.
This office shall share all such public records on request. However, the office will not be bullied into acting outside the ambit of the law, simply because someone wishes to throw a tantrum.
Registrar of Companies and Deeds
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